Episode 6 // Active Peacemaking: Following Christ's Example with Chad Ford

Apr 09, 2024
Proclaim Peace S1E6

Exploring the often overlooked 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, this episode delves into the rich content and theology it offers. Jen and Patrick are joined by Chad Ford to  discuss the contrast between the action-packed 1 Nephi and the more mature, world-weary prophet in 2 Nephi, highlighting the lessons on peace and family dynamics found in the scripture. They recommend ways to see Christ as the true hero of the Book of Mormon as they reflect on the significance of the different peace narratives portrayed in the scripture.



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[00:02:14] Growing Up in 2 Nephi.

[00:06:08] Conflict transformation and peacemaking.

[00:09:22] The essence of "Aloha."

[00:13:00] The significance of conflict.

[00:16:45] Peaceful conflict resolution.

[00:23:43] Conflict and differing perspectives.

[00:26:42] Is it OK to be angry?

[00:30:05] Loving our enemies.

[00:35:32] The role of eschatology.

[00:37:28] Practical peace building strategies.

[00:41:27] Active peace building.

[00:44:33] Vulnerability and transformation

[00:51:47] Missionary misunderstanding incident.

[00:53:37] Being right vs being righteous.


(00:03-00:06) Jennifer Thomas: Welcome to the Proclaim Peace Podcast. I'm Jennifer Thomas.
(00:06-00:15) Patrick Mason: And I'm Patrick Mason. And this is the podcast where we apply principles of the gospel and read the Book of Mormon to become better peacemakers. Hi, Jen.

(00:15-00:16) Jennifer Thomas: Hi, Patrick.

(00:16-00:17) Patrick Mason: How are you doing today?

(00:17-00:20) Jennifer Thomas: I'm doing okay. I'm really excited about this conversation.

(00:20-00:34) Patrick Mason: I am super excited, actually. We have spent the last few episodes really focusing on 1 Nephi, which makes sense because it's first in the Book of Mormon. But it turns out that Nephi wrote two books.

(00:34-00:40) Jennifer Thomas: Yes, everyone's favorite, the one with no real stories where we all sort of get stuck in those Isaiah chapters.

(00:41-01:08) Patrick Mason: Yes, that's everybody's favorite. So we're not going to spend quite as much time with 2 Nephi as we did with 1 Nephi. But actually, I think 2 Nephi gets a bit of a bad rap. I think it's one of those underappreciated books in the Book of Mormon. There's so much rich content, so much rich theology that can actually teach us a lot about the gospel of Jesus Christ in general, but specifically about peace and peacemaking as well.

(01:08-01:26) Jennifer Thomas: I totally agree. I think as we go along with this podcast, you're all going to find that there are two ways to learn about peace. First, kind of through lived experience. And then the second thing that the scripture has to teach us is how we can find peace theologically. It teaches us doctrinal patterns to peace. And I think Second Nephi is a book that gives us that opportunity.

(01:27-02:13) Patrick Mason: Yeah, I love. So I've been using Grant Hardy's study edition of the Book of Mormon this year as I've been studying. It's fantastic, highly recommended to people. And I love what he says in his introduction to the Book of 2 Nephi. He recognizes that 1 Nephi is full of all these great stories, these memorable stories, a lot of action in there. But in 2 Nephi, we encounter a prophet who's more mature, who's maybe a little world-weary, that his life hasn't turned out quite maybe like he expected. And of course, the narrative that we do have is of the family breaking up. And I love what Hardy says about 2 Nephi. He says, 2 Nephi is, to paraphrase Virginia Woolf's assessment of Middlemarch, Scripture written for grownups.

(02:14-03:38) Jennifer Thomas: Also a book I highly recommend, but I love this interpretation. It's totally true. First Nephi is kind of what we all raise our kids on. That's the primary songs, right? These fantastic stories of heroic faith and strict obedience. And obviously many of us as parents would sort of prefer that our kids be that straight arrow Nephi rather than murmuring Laman and Lemuel's. But in the first place, that's not everybody's personality and that's not what everybody brings to their gospel journey. And in the second place, even those people grow up and face opposition. Our families aren't always perfect. They don't work out the way we want them to. Some of the conflicts that we struggle with and we put our best effort into resolving sometimes don't sort themselves out for decades, if ever. And sometimes things get worse over time rather than better. And I think all of us have that moment in which this youthful confidence in which we were approaching the gospel and life and all of our relationships kind of starts to wear down as the kind of the world kind of comes straight into conflict with our will and the realities of life and the fact that other people can make their own choices. So I think with time and perspective, then we have to realize that the ways we've contributed to some of the problems and conflicts that we have also were ours, right? Like it wasn't just that the conflicts arose out of nothing. So as adults, we're faced with a lot of difficulties and we have to make sense of that the same way Nephi did.

(03:39-04:18) Patrick Mason: Yeah, exactly. And I think this is where 2 Nephi is so helpful, because there's a way when we read 1 Nephi that we can get caught in the trap of thinking that Nephi is the hero of the story, because he is the hero of so many of those stories, and he's the central character that's so memorable. But 2 Nephi is so clear I think it delivers the message really powerfully, precisely what Emma Petty Adams said in our first episode, that Nephi isn't the hero of the Book of Mormon, Captain Moroni isn't the hero of the Book of Mormon, Mormon isn't the hero of the Book of Mormon, but the hero of the Book of Mormon is… Jesus.

(04:19-04:43) Jennifer Thomas: It's, I think, a really essential point, especially for peace builders. And ultimately, it's the only way that we're going to take from this book everything it has to offer. If we make the heroes people who have, you know, limitations, then we ourselves are going to bump up against those limitations as we try to grow. But if we take Jesus as the hero of this story, then the opportunity for our growth is pretty much almost limitless.

(04:44-06:39) Patrick Mason: Yeah. So even though 2 Nephi doesn't have the same kind of narrative punch that 1 Nephi does, I think what we want to explore today is its theological punch, and maybe we shouldn't talk about punching, impact. Impact. but also actually some really profound lessons that Nephi has to teach us in his second book about peacemaking. And to do that, to have this conversation, I am just thrilled to introduce our guest for today, Chad Ford. Chad may be known to a lot of you, may be new to others, but definitely somebody you want to get to know. Chad Ford is currently a professor of intercultural peace building at Brigham Young University, Hawaii. For many years, he served there as the director of the David O. McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding. In addition to his work as a professor, he's also a professional mediator and facilitator who has gone all over the world leading mediations and workshops. He's been in Israel and Palestine and Northern Ireland and Cyprus and South Africa and all over the United States and a bunch of other places as well. And I really want to highlight his recent book that he published a couple years ago called Dangerous Love, Transforming Fear and Conflict at Home, at Work, and in the World, which in my humble opinion—I haven't read everything—but in my humble opinion, it's the best one-volume introduction to conflict transformation. It's just a phenomenal book that I highly recommend that you put on your bookshelf. So, and on top of all of that, maybe the thing that I'm most excited about is that Chad's going to be joining the faculty of Utah State University to teach in our Religious Studies and Peacebuilding programs. So, Chad, thank you for everything you do, but especially thank you for joining us on the podcast today.

(06:42-07:19) Chad Ford: It's a pleasure to be here. Aloha. Aloha. And I admire you both so much and excited that this podcast exists and that we have this, in my estimation, this growing desire among members of the church and Christians to be talking about peacemaking and be talking about that aspect of their discipleship. And so I'm thrilled to get going. And the way you set up Second Nephi, by the way, of course, I get called in when things go bad. As a conflict committeer, it's always set up when things went really bad.

(07:19-07:20) Jennifer Thomas: And now let's introduce Chad.

(07:20-07:24) Chad Ford: Everything's going off the cliff.

(07:24-07:45) Patrick Mason: Well, here you are. At least you're comfortable. We brought you into a comfortable space, right? So before we dive into the text, before we dive into 2 Nephi, we want to ask you a question that we ask all of our guests right up front. And this is an easy question, I'm sure, that you can answer in 10 seconds. But how do you define peace?

(07:46-11:35) Chad Ford: Yeah, you know, I knew that was coming. And every day, the answer is different. And I think that's because it is simple but complex at the same time. And I was actually thinking about one of the advantages of teaching at BYU-Hawaii is we have these students from all over the world, right? And so language becomes this really interesting way sometimes to talk about concepts. So what does peace mean? in your language, and we'll have students figure out the term. And often there's a deep embedded meaning within that term. So there's a story around it. And as I was thinking about that this morning, the words that I said to you really came to my mind, aloha. And this is a Hawaiian word that means a lot of things. You may have heard it say hello or goodbye, or it means I love you, or having aloha could mean having charity or peace. But a deeper look at the word itself, I think, is A great definition for peace. Aloha is actually two Hawaiian words. Ha is the breath of life. It's our spirit. It's what animates us. Every human being has ha, and it's sacred. Like you said, the definition is the breath, the breath of life. And alo means to share, right? So you share your breath of life. And so when someone said aloha to each other back, you know, pre-colonization in Hawaii, they would come, they would touch foreheads, and then they would breathe in each other's ha. right? And then they would say the words, Aloha. And when you did this, it was really a sacred moment where I breathe your spirit into me and you breathe my spirit into you. And then we make a commitment that we're going to help each other among our life journey. We recognize the divinity, the spirit which is within you. We recognize that you have important things that you want to accomplish. You have dreams, desires, hopes that you want to achieve. And now I'm committing to you that I'm going to be helpful to you in that journey. And to me, that takes peace and makes it very active, right? It's about how we see, how we take in others, how we share our humanity back out, and then a commitment that we make to each other. That really reminds me of something Donna Hicks said in one of my favorite books of all time, Dignity, where she talks about this mutual recognition to be seen, to be heard, to be listened to, to be treated fairly. And when we recognize that within people and commit to doing it to people, That is when we experience peace. And just as a side note, there's another word in Hawaiian that you may have heard of before called haole. And it typically means like white person or foreigner, but notice the word ha is in there as well. It's haole. And so ha is the breath of life, but ole sadly means without. And it was a term that came into being when Westerners arrived in Hawaii and they didn't touch the forehead, they didn't take in the breath, they didn't share of the ha, they stuck out their hands at a distance and then took. instead of give, and so haole or haole is without. And I think it's actually a really great definition for conflict, right? I don't recognize your spirit. I'm not willing to collaborate with you or to connect or mingle those spirits together.

(11:36-12:39) Jennifer Thomas: So that is super fascinating. And one of the things that we're trying to accomplish with this podcast is to make peacemaking more accessible and less squishy. And you've sort of just set this framing up that I think perfectly reflects a little bit of what we struggle with in the Western world and in our very pragmatic ways of thinking. We sort of don't understand sometimes how to approach concepts that don't have tangible markers of success related to them. But we really do believe that peace isn't just squishy, that it's something that we all need to learn the skills and the capacity to bring into our life and into spaces of conflict. My guess is if when Patrick was reading your bio and said you are a professional mediator who's led peace building workshops and mediations around the world, people might not know exactly what that looks like. And so I'm wondering if you could tell us some of the really pragmatic ways that you put these principles into practice in the real world and bring peace where there was once conflict.

(12:40-13:41) Chad Ford: Well, it starts for me, Jennifer, with a very practical definition of conflict. I think there's a lot of stigma around conflict, and I think a lot of that, especially, I think, in our faith, this idea of, you know, contention is of the devil. If I'm in conflict, there must be something wrong with me, or there's some sort of level of unrighteousness happening. But to me, conflict is a very neutral term, right? It certainly can be destructive. It absolutely can be devastating. But it also can be actually very constructive, and it actually can really lead to very positive things that can happen. And I think relationships actually need a certain level of conflict to thrive. And in fact, marriage therapists will tell you that marriages that have zero conflict are actually in trouble. right? Because it means probably that communication is broken down and that people are no longer actually sharing of themselves. They're not sharing of the ha anymore. They're hiding it away to try to protect themselves or protect the relationship anymore.

(13:41-13:44) Jennifer Thomas: Or one person's getting steamrolled, right?

(13:44-20:16) Chad Ford: Exactly, right? One person's just now accommodating and giving in or there's, you know, massive conflict avoidance that's happening. And so if we think about conflict as our inability to collaboratively solve conflict, I think that's a really helpful way to start practically, right? What is going on when I experience conflict? You and I don't agree on something or there's something that we need to achieve and we're struggling to figure it out together. Right. And if we if we frame it that way, we experience conflict every day, multiple times a day. Right. And most of it actually doesn't turn destructive because actually human beings actually are capable of collaborating and sorting things out and figuring things out. But when we can't, when we get stuck, it can feel really dangerous to us, which is partly why I termed my book Dangerous Love. And so part of what I'm doing as a mediator, and I do everything from family mediations to organizational stuff. My training and background in grad school was on large-scale ethnic and religious conflict, but my first gig was as a child custody mediator. And if you were asking me which of those two is hardest, doing large-scale ethnic or religious conflict or child custody, I think I'd take the ethnic and religious conflict, to be honest with you. There's nothing harder than a divorcing couple that are now fighting over their kids and their kids are in the middle and they feel like this is the thing that they're gonna, they have to salvage this, they have to win this to maintain any sort of sense of identity. And so we start there. And then practically what this looks like when I'm doing mediation or doing facilitation or whatever is I want people to let go of the fear that they have of conflict with each other because fear just drives us to either flee or fight, and neither of those things are particularly helpful when it comes to conflict. Running away from conflict doesn't really solve it, nor does trying to crush or destroy or bulldoze the other person. That's really not gonna be great. Second thing we're going to do is try to see the humanity of the other person that we're in conflict with. It's so difficult when we're frustrated and when we feel like there's something that's really important to us and the other person's in the way and the other person just won't agree, to start to dehumanize that person, to start to take their needs and say that they're not nearly as important as my needs. And so I can ignore those or I can steamroll those or I can actually belittle or dehumanize someone because they desire or want or value something that I don't particularly value or that they're in my way. And so, so much of this process is really about rehumanizing or, you know, in the scriptures, in the New Testaments, it's like seeing with the eyes of our heart instead of seeing with the eyes of our flesh. And then it's this process, and so much, by the way, of my practice has been informed by Jesus, and also other peace churches like the Mennonites and the Quakers that were really influential early on in my graduate school training about this. Christianity actually has a lot of really cool and practical things to say about how to positively talk about conflict, and some churches have really doubled or tripled down on this, as this is sort of the main part of their theology, is then, if I see this person, I start to quit throwing stones, right? Again, we're going to pull something kind of right out of the scriptures, right? He that is without sin casts the first stone. In fact, instead of throwing stones, I want to roll them away. I want to roll away the blame. I want to roll away the barriers that are between us right now. I need us to be able to be connected if we're going to get to collaboration. And so I have to start thinking about how do I start to roll away those stones. And to me, this is where Jesus plays the biggest role of all. Then it's being the first person in a relationship to take the risk of embrace, to embrace my enemy, to have the courage and the vulnerability to say, you know what, I'm going to make the first move here that's going to invite us back into restoration or reconciliation space again. And Jesus models this over and over and over again in the New Testament. He's calling upon us to do this. And then the last thing is don't just be satisfied with, OK, well, we solved that issue. It's deeper. Almost all conflict runs deeper. Almost all of it has to do with relational challenges. that we face. And so we actually seek restoration, like we actually seek the reconciliation, the reconnection that is going to allow us to be able to thrive together and to better collaborate in the future. And so most of my work is actually helping clients understand these principles, and then when we engage with each other, apply those principles, and a lot of it's cheerleading behind the scenes, like be the first to embrace, be the first to turn first, watch what happens, watch the magic happen, and along the way, giving them some skills, some really practical skills to do that. When we do those four things, I have seen even the most violent of conflicts, even the most intractable of conflicts transform. This is absolutely possible, even in the hardest of conflicts. that we face in the world. But the problem, I think, for most of us is when we're stuck in it, we don't believe that's possible. We believe it is impossible. And the biggest question I typically get is, yeah, but you don't understand my husband the way, right, or you don't know about my boss, or you have no idea what the situation is. And that's, again, where I think Jesus can be helpful because, yeah, Jesus actually understands. You want to talk about somebody who lived in a dangerous time? You want to talk about somebody who lived in a moment of social and political and religious polarization in a time of poverty and unrest. Jesus' message when he was on this earth mortally was to people who were completely engulfed in conflict, that were hopeless, that were praying for a Messiah that was going to come and somehow magically deliver them. And then they were shocked at what they got. They got their Messiah. But the message that he had for them, I think, was quite shocking.

(20:17-23:12) Patrick Mason: I love all of that. And as you were talking, Chad, I was sitting here taking notes. And so we're going to boomerang back to Jesus, but we're going to go through 2 Nephi here, because actually your answer just like that was one of the best summaries of 2 Nephi I've ever heard. And here's what I mean. So you talked about conflict as just a natural part of life. And what does Lehi teach at the very beginning of 2 Nephi? 2 Nephi 2, right? There has to be an opposition in all things. Lehi recognizes this inherent tension that there has to be. You can't have one without the other. Human existence, creation, is predicated on opposition, on tension, on conflict. It's life-giving, even if there's destructive possibilities. And then you talked about this kind of—the way that we oftentimes respond to conflict is to either flee or to fight. That's exactly what we see in 2 Nephi 5. One group takes one option, the other group is seeking the other option, right? And things don't go well there. You talked about the importance of embrace. And to me, that takes me to one of my very favorite scriptures in 2 Nephi in chapter 4, where Nephi prays, this is part of his psalm in verse 33, where he says, Oh, Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness? right, which always makes me think about the prodigal son, and the father just embracing the prodigal son. And then you talked about it, it's ultimately about reconciliation and restoration. And that's exactly the theme of 2 Nephi and the Isaiah chapters, 2 Nephi chapter 30, verse 8, where Nephi says that this whole message, all of these chapters, the whole thing that he's been doing for like an entire book, is all to teach about the restoration of God's people. So thank you for summarizing 2 Nephi for us. It can be fun now. We're all done. So let's linger just for a minute in 2 Nephi because I do want to boomerang back to Jesus as the peacemaker exemplar and sort of get concrete with some of that and not just theological. But 2 Nephi does begin that the little bit of narrative we do get is the family breaking up, right? Lehi and Sariah die. And with that, it seems like the last glue that's holding the family is no longer there. And so, Nephi, he's narrated at length in 1 Nephi all of the ways his brothers, you know, did violence against him. In chapter 5, he just says, it suffices me to say that my brothers did seek to take away my life. It's just like, he's just like tired of like listing all the different ways. He's just like, I'm just going to say it was bad, folks. And then it breaks up.

(23:12-25:24) Chad Ford: Patrick, I just want to say, when I was reading that this time in preparation for this, as a mediator, I'm like, oh, man, I hear this every day. And even, OK, take away my life, I don't hear that as extreme every day, though, frankly, I work in the Middle East and places where that actually is. But even in other conflicts, it feels that way. It feels like they're trying to take away my life, right? Because they're trying to take away my dreams or my desires or the things that… Or my kids. Or my kids or the things that matter the most to me, right? And that's why I'm fighting. And what's always interesting about the Book of Mormon is there is no Book of Laman and Lemuel. And so my guess is, this is just my experience as a mediator, if Laman and Lemuel were sitting in my office, they would tell an actually very similar story with Nephi trying to take their life. And that's really hard for us to wrap our brains around because we've only ever heard Nephi's version of the story. And we've never heard the other side. But as a mediator, I can tell you there is another side. There's always another side. And the truth is never with just one person or the other person. It is always in the intersection between those two people. And I think One of the things I was reading is that's what Nephi never can quite get his arms around in some ways, is why Laman and Lemuel feel this way other than that they're wicked. By the way, that's also really common. That's usually the conclusion at the end of people telling me their conflict, and by the way, the person I'm in conflict with is wicked. They're unrighteous, they're evil in some way, and therefore they'll never change. I want to interject there, too, because we have Nephi's story, and I believe Nephi. Everything Nephi is saying, I'm not doubting or questioning Nephi's narrative at all. All I'm pointing out is there is another narrative that we never get to really see except through Nephi's narration. And my guess is that if Lehman and Lemuel read it, they would say that it isn't as kind or generous or as deeply thought through as they would talk about it.

(25:24-25:51) Patrick Mason: Yeah, well, and I do think there's other places in the Book of Mormon where the Lamanite voice does kind of emerge very briefly. And it is, it's just a completely different story. It's the other side of the coin. And you can say you believe one more than the other. But in this case, we have two peoples eventually, who have completely different stories about the other one. And that is oftentimes, going back to what you said earlier, they do not see each other, right? They cannot see each other.

(25:52-26:31) Chad Ford: And if you're following the Israeli-Palestinian conflict right now, you know exactly what this sounds like because most of us, and some people for the first time, are really starting to hear both stories. They're hearing both sides of this story. They seem completely incompatible with each other. It's almost hard to wrap our brain around how could both of these stories be true. But this is almost always the case, and in fact, it's because those two stories are so incompatible with each other. And because there's such a deep resistance to hear or understand or let the other story in, to take in that breath from the other person, that we get to really destructive conflict.

(26:31-27:09) Jennifer Thomas: So let me ask you a question. Right there in 2 Nephi, in this psalm, Nephi's lamenting. He's like, why do I sin? Why am I angry with my brother? And we all know the answer to that question, and he knows the answer to that question. So I guess my question to you, is it OK to be angry? When you find yourself in a situation of conflict, is that an appropriate response, or is there a better response? Because we just talked about the fact that you don't want to be the person in the relationship who's just smushed down. You don't want to just smush down your anger and smush down your frustration. What are appropriate responses in situations like that to help us get to a place of reconciliation?

(27:10-30:01) Chad Ford: It's a human response, first of all. And one of the things I love about Nephi's psalm is this is Nephi being deeply human right now. I think this is the most deeply human we're seeing Nephi. We're seeing regrets here. We're seeing him pointing out his weaknesses in ways that we don't really get in the more heroic stories in 1 Nephi now. You talked about this being scripture for adults. One of the interesting things that I encounter is the older we get, the more we can look back on our lives and start to cringe a little bit at how we've handled things in the past, or we start to see our own contribution to the things that are going on. And as I read that, I read some of that in there, that Nephi is—this is coming after the breakup, and that Nephi, without getting into specifics, is also recognizing that maybe he played a role. in part of this pattern, that this breakup isn't just Laman and Lemuel's fault, but that in all ways this is what we call a conflict tornado, right? That there's an action and reaction that's happening here. So when I see Nephi talking about being angry, I actually really appreciate that because it humanizes that even the best of us, even someone that we really admire, someone like Nephi, is struggling with this commandment that Jesus has about loving our enemies. Nephi is wrestling with us right now, and he's wrestling with Jesus. And I love that, right? We're going to see Jesus come up more and more in 2 Nephi now, and he's wrestling with Jesus just like I do, and just like so many other people do, because what Jesus asks is hard, right? Loving your enemy is a really hard thing. And so I start with anger is human. Of course we're going to experience it. I don't think there's any reason to demonize it or make us feel bad about what is a natural emotion that we have, but it's what we do with anger, right, that I think is ultimately going, you know, to define us. If we continue to sit in the anger and let it take over, we are going to follow a path of destructive conflict that is going to include, at least at some level, violence is coming, right, whether that's emotional violence or physical violence. It's coming, anger is going to lead us there. If we take that anger and we try to do something more constructive with it. and understand, okay, there's hurt that's happening here. There's pain that's happening here. There's a reason that I'm feeling this way. I can't deny it. And I'm not supposed to be a martyr. I'm not supposed to be someone who's emotionless, right? But what can I do with this, this emotion right now? I actually hear in those scriptures, Nephi praying and asking God to help him with those emotions right now.

(30:01-30:04) Jennifer Thomas: I read it the same way. Yeah, he's just pleading. Take this, right?

(30:05-31:34) Chad Ford: And what do we have a Messiah for? What do we have a Savior for? Jesus is actually talking about this as one of the things that he can take upon himself here for us and replace enmity with love. And when I see Nephi asking, to me he's far down the road of getting towards reconciliation because he's asking. He's asking God to take it from his heart. He's recognizing it's there and it's an impediment. to his relationship with his brothers, and to his people, and to his children, and to everyone else. And, you know, the truth is, Jennifer, most of the time when people are coming in, they don't want it taken away. They feel justified in having it, right? They want it validated. And they frankly want me or other people around them to be angry with them as part of that, right? But when somebody comes in and says, I know I'm feeling this, it's valid that I'm feeling it, but I know it's not gonna lead me to any place productive or constructive, and I want help taking it out of my heart. That's actually when I know we're already walking, we're walking the path of Jesus at that point. and it's going to lead to something really good. And so this is actually an amazing scripture to model in our own life. If we're feeling those emotions, which we all do, we shouldn't be ashamed of those emotions, but we should go get help. And I think Nephi is actually turning to one of the best places he could go to to actually get that help.

(31:35-32:21) Jennifer Thomas: I agree, and there's just that beautiful scripture in chapter 434 where he says, And it's almost as if we see this complete pivot from Nephi and we stop hearing his grievances. Like he's just decided, he's narrated his grievances and he's told us where he is and then we get to be present as he turns to the Lord, hands everything over to him, commits to trusting him and at that point it's so interesting to me that it seems it's no longer necessary for him. And the grievances continue by the way, but he doesn't seem to need to narrate them as much.

(32:21-34:25) Patrick Mason: Yeah, it's so interesting to me that this is exactly where narrative stops. Again, he tells us just enough to know that the band breaks up, right? And then he tells us a little bit about the beginnings of the Nephite civilization. He does talk about the curse. That's a subject for another podcast. We'll save that. But that's when narrative drops out. And instead, what he does, I love what you said, Chad, in terms of now he's turning to other resources. Rather than just like, he could tell more stories. He could keep on telling more and more stories. Because he's writing this at the end of his life. He's got plenty more stories to tell. about the wars. He does tell us there's wars between them, but he doesn't want to do that. I think he's grasping, he's reaching, like, what is a better story to tell than this story of interminable, intractable conflict? And for him, he's reaching, he's grasping, he's a guy who loves scriptures, and so that's where he goes. This is now all of a sudden, he cites a bunch of his brother Jacob's sermons, and then we get this big chunk of Isaiah. And I had never quite thought about it this way until I was reading the Book of Mormon in preparation for this. Where does he start with Isaiah? He starts with chapter two. which is 2 Nephi 12. And what does chapter 2 start with? With this incredible messianic prophecy that then says this beautiful, beautiful language from Isaiah, they shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. Nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord. It's like Nephi is saying, like, there's the answer. That's where I want to be. That's where I want to go. I may not know exactly how to get there. He knows he's going to reach the end of his life, and it's not all going to be roses. The conflict hasn't been reconciled. But he has a vision of what it might look like, what it could look like, and the resources of how he could get there.

(34:26-35:21) Jennifer Thomas: And I just want to add that I think one of the things that's so hopeful is that unlike with our own families, when we see, oh, I contributed to this conflict, or it's not going to be resolved in my lifetime, he knows ultimately this is going to play out incredibly badly for his people over generations. He sees not only what the legacy is for his immediate family, but he sees the legacy of this conflict over generations. And yet he's still able, because of this pivot to Christ, to be able to essentially say all will be well. And that is really moving to me because I think it also signals to us as we follow the pathway of Christ and we know that we have been engaged in conflict, we also have to be able to forgive ourselves. We have to be able to put that down, turn to him, accept that and move forward. We can't let our own mistakes freeze us either, right? We have to be able to move forward in hope and faith.

(35:22-39:33) Chad Ford: I love those interpretations. There was another thing that kind of caught my eye there, though. And I see this a lot. And Patrick, you've actually written some about this. The role that eschatology, or sort of thinking about end times, can actually play in our peacemaking, right? Because he's talking about a lot of prophecies that, for the most part, are future events. They're down the road. There may be generations later, right? And I think sometimes as Christians we can take a lot of peace and comfort in these sort of moments that are to come, that the second coming there will be peace, there will be no more war or what have you. That there's some big event that Jesus is going to institute in the future that will bend those swords into plowshares. And it can sometimes keep us from being the active, like Nephi knows those scriptures, bend your sword. If you know that this is going to have generations of impact, and I think he was dead on right about that, these are how conflicts spread from individuals. And by the way, we have another sort of family story in Genesis with Abraham and Ishmael and what have you that spreads and was a source of conflict throughout essentially the rest of the Old Testament. And so it's interesting, the Bible is warning us about this. The Book of Mormon actually sort of starts in a very similar way. If Lehi is Abraham, and there's a lot of parallels with Lehi and Abraham and coming to a new nation and you know, setting up things. You know, Lehi's got sons that are struggling to get along and that struggle to get along is going to lead to a lot of bloodshed and a lot of war and a lot of, you know, a lot of problems that are happening. This is the thing, I'm not blaming Nephi. There's plenty of swords that I carry with me right now that need to be bent into plowshares, right? Because I know those scriptures too. And I've had formal training as a mediator, right? So I'm not blaming Nephi here, but I also want to, when we're thinking about practical peace building, we talked about that early on, I don't want the message to be at some future date, Jesus will just fix all of this for me and that there's nothing that I can do Right now, Nephi feared for his life. I understand why he wasn't like, hey, I'm just going to go back to Laman and Lemuel now with my bent sword and fall on my knees, you know, the way Jacob does with Esau to a certain extent and try to make things right. But that story of Jacob and Esau in some ways is a more proactive peace-building story. And then Jacob says to Esau who he thought was going to kill him. By the way, he actually thought that that's what was going to happen. His brother was going to kill him. In you, I see the face of God when Esau forgives him. There could have been a different end of the story. It would have been incredibly scary. It would have been really dangerous. Nephi's at the end of his life. But it made me ponder how the book may have been different if he said, like, this is worth risking my life for. at this point, to stop the cycle, the generational cycle that's about ready to continue. This is worth risking my life for. He gets to the messianic scriptures. He gets to this dream of reconciliation. My work in this life on earth is to try to get people to recognize you're part of that pattern now. There's stuff that you can actually do now. We don't need to wait for Jesus to do this for us. But Jesus can give us the strength to do it, he can give us the wisdom to do it, he can turn our hearts towards him. But I think for many people that is their disbelief at the end of the day, like, there's nothing I can do about this, I'm completely powerless here. But the good news is we have a Messiah who at some point will make it right. And I think Jesus wants us to do everything that we can to make that right.

(39:33-40:53) Jennifer Thomas: So I would completely agree. We actually hear that a lot. I hear that a lot in my work, which is, you know, obviously around conflict in politics. And increasingly, I'm hearing people of faith saying, essentially, well, I just I'm tossing up my hands. I just want Jesus to come. And they might. I might. I want Jesus to come. It would be lovely. It would be a fantastic solution to a lot of my personal messes that I wouldn't have to clean up, right? I really love the way that you've put that, Chad, as a reminder that if we really are going to model ourselves after Christ, He was not passive. He was not a person that just sat and waited for His Father in Heaven to intervene or a power higher than him to solve the problem. But he always moved towards the people that were suffering. He always moved to solve the problems that were in front of him. And if we really want him to come, but we want him to see us as his people when he does, that even if it feels futile or absurd, we have to be actively engaged in mitigating harm, in solving problems, in resolving conflicts in our own lives. Otherwise, he won't recognize us. He'll be like, I don't even know who you are, you people sitting around waiting for me. I think the best way we can show that we love him is to be about his business.

(40:54-41:27) Patrick Mason: Well, and I think that's what it means. I think that is the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What we say our mission is, is to prepare the world for the second coming of Christ, right? It's not to wait for the second coming of Christ. It's to prepare the world. There's always been this active sense of building Zion. Yes, of course, we all look forward to the time when Jesus will wipe away the tears, you know, from our eyes and so forth. But in the meantime, get busy, right? Build something, do peacemaking, peace building. These are active terms.

(41:27-44:03) Chad Ford: And it really reminds me of two Jesus stories where Jesus says he doesn't ask us to wait for him to do it, right? So he's on the shore of Galilee after he's crucified and resurrected. having a conversation with Peter and the Apostles again, asking them, do they love these fish more than him? And I think that conversation is so interesting to me. It's one of my favorite parts of the New Testament because you've got to believe that Peter and others—and Elder Holland gave a great conference talk around this—believed that, look, our salvation is sort of secure now. We've spent three years with the Messiah. We've done all of these things. We're good. We'll just wait for Jesus to come again. We'll wait for the resurrection. We're good. And Jesus gives them a very different and pointed message about his expectation that they're not waiting, that they're actually doing. And then there's this really cool moment in 3rd Nephi where Jesus gathers the 12 apostles around him when he appears to them in the Americas. He asked them what, they basically each get a wish or a gift from Jesus, and nine of them want to return to heaven, right? They want to be with Jesus. This encounter is so powerful. This being in the presence of Jesus is so amazing to them that all they can think about is can we speedily come to you to heaven? And then the other three Nephite apostles are actually ashamed, right? And Jesus understands, you know, the intentions of their heart, and they want to keep serving. They want to keep doing. They want to keep doing this work. And they want to stay on earth as long as possible to keep doing this work. And Jesus tells them that they are more blessed. because of their desire. It's great to want to be with Jesus. It's awesome to want to have the second coming in your life. Of course, we all look forward to that reintroduction back with our brother and our Savior. But more blessed are you, and he uses this term, what manner of men ought you to be even as I am? And he repeats that phrase in the next chapter when talking about these three Nephites. You will be even as I am. he says. And so that to me is that active peace building, that call from Jesus. Of course we rely on him. Of course we need him in our lives. But it's not about waiting.

(44:03-44:11) Jennifer Thomas: And that's a substantive difference between you will be with me and you will be as I am. I mean, that's pretty remarkable difference, right, to shoot for.

(44:12-46:53) Chad Ford: And it's really common, Jennifer. I mean, most of the time, in fact, I ask this question almost every workshop I do. We go through about 80% of the workshop trying to invite people to turn first. And I ask people to think about what it would look like, and this is the concept, that we're back to back and we're elbowing each other right now, right? And this is sort of a metaphor for conflict. We can't see each other, but we can feel each other. And the goal is to turn first. And before I ask people, the key question, which is, you know, what could you do to turn first? I asked them, how many of you are just praying that it will be the other person, right? That turns first, right? And almost every hand goes up there. They're still consumed, like 80% into this with, well, maybe if I pray hard enough, the other person will change, the other person will take that act, the other person will ask for forgiveness, and therefore I don't have to be vulnerable and be the one that does it. And it's so interesting that we're asking Jesus to save us from vulnerability, to save us from opening it up to take risks. The person who is the most vulnerable, who took upon all of our infirmities so that he could sucker us more, that we're asking out of our small Gethsemane's, when he took on the biggest one. And it's funny, when everybody sees everybody else's hand, when that comes up, there's a lot of laughter in the room, and there's a lot of sort of understanding at that moment. Well, if that's the case, what are they thinking? What is the person that I'm behind thinking? They're praying for the exact same thing, right? And it's hard for us to understand that, but they're praying for the exact same thing. If the Israelis would just do this, like, you know, we could have peace, or if the Palestinians just would do this, we can have peace. And so that active approach, Having Jesus sink so deep into our hearts that we decide that we want to take upon us his name. In those same chapters in 3 Nephi, Jesus is there debating about what the church should be called, and Jesus is talking about this again, that we're taking upon him his name. means we're taking upon him some risk, some vulnerability. Yeah, the love that Jesus is asking of us is dangerous in a certain way because it requires a level of sacrifice, a level of vulnerability, a level of maybe hurt or pain. But the results, that love is transformative and we have to have faith in its power.

(46:54-48:01) Jennifer Thomas: So we started this by talking about presenting Christ as the hero of the Book of Mormon, and I think you've just, in a nutshell, probably without intending to, described what the problem is when we make other heroes. When Christ is the hero of this story, when he's the one that we orient ourselves to and follow, we actually are able to complete our journey towards him. We're able to move as far as we will allow ourselves to towards perfection. When we orient ourselves towards other people as the heroes of the story, we actually only get as far as they got. We get as far as they got and then we give ourselves permission to kind of stop there. Well, like this person was exceptional and they got this far, but they kept those problems. And so that means I don't have to put them down either. And so I think there's sort of two parts to this. The first part, as we've just talked about, is Christ being willing to follow him and do everything that he's asked us to do. And I think the second part is by setting him up as the hero, we really agree to be everything that he is and attempt to do that and to not set small limitations on ourselves for our growth.

(48:01-48:32) Patrick Mason: So Chad, how would you, as we start to wrap up, if you could give us just one concrete lesson that you've learned. You said that, you know, you've learned so much about peace building from Jesus, right? Could you give us just one lesson that you've learned or implemented or you think that's been helpful for other people in terms of a lesson or a teaching from Christ that can, in concrete ways, make somebody a better peacemaker? Well, there's a lot.

(48:32-55:38) Chad Ford: And so many of these I learned from my own failures. I mean, so many stories are coming to my head right now as we're taking about this. And I want to share one thing because I'm assuming a lot of our audience is Latter-day Saints right now. I want to share an embarrassing experience, but it was life-changing for me that happened on my mission that I think may have taught me more about peace building than any other sort of experience I had in my life. I was a convert to the church and was very anxious. about my lack of gospel knowledge and my deep understanding of the scriptures. I went to BYU and took that first Book of Mormon class at BYU and I just felt like I was swimming in the deep end of the pool and I didn't really understand all this stuff and there I'm going on a mission. and I'm going to preach the gospel. And I became obsessed in the MTC with memorizing the lessons, memorizing the scriptures that we were going to do, memorizing the sort of patterns, because I was actually deeply afraid that I was a fraud. Like of all the people that were coming here I had the least experience in the church, I had the least knowledge, and I tried to overcompensate that with just sort of this perfection, if you will, in keeping the missionary rules, following the guidelines to a T, like that's what I could do. And you're probably not going to be surprised that it gets me in trouble. In all the ways that I wouldn't think that it would get me in trouble on my mission, but there's this moment where I'm out in Death Valley in the middle of nowhere and we're dropped off as missionaries in Death Valley to try to help a very struggling branch and we don't have any investigators. We're going door to door and we show up at this trailer house of this woman. And we knock on her door, and she invites us in. And we're starting to try to teach her the first discussion. And back in those days, there was very set first discussions. I know it's a little differently right now. And part of the instructions for the missionaries, whenever we get to scripture, we slide that scripture across and give it to the investigator to read the scripture. with the thinking that, you know, them reading the scriptures, it helps them feel the Spirit. And every time I was trying to do this, the woman pushed the scripture back and asked if we would read it again. And I'm getting annoyed and frustrated as a missionary because they're not following the plan. This is taking me off script, and all I know how to do is to be on script, right? And my companion, to make it worse, is just not even asking her to read anymore. So now he's off script, and I'm frustrated with my companion as well. And as this tension builds in there, and I keep insisting that this woman read, she gets visibly frustrated and tells us that we need to leave. And I'm just shocked. And she tells us we need to leave, and she's very quite forceful about it. And as she walks us to the door, I'm a little bit confused. And so I'm now standing at the door, and she's at the door again. And I ask her, can you just help us explain what we did wrong? She pointed to my missionary tag and she pointed right to the Jesus Christ and she said, I thought you were messengers from Jesus Christ but now I know that you're not. And that was one of the hardest moments of my mission as I went home that day, trying to understand what happened and what went wrong and what she meant by that. And there was a lot of prayer. And it finally occurred to me later that night, probably has occurred to a lot of you already hearing the story. The reason she kept pushing the scriptures back was because she couldn't read. And I was embarrassing her every time. I was so caught up. My knowledge of the scriptures did not equal understanding. My knowledge of what I was doing on my mission did not equal understanding. I knew what I was supposed to do but I didn't understand why. I didn't understand who I was representing. and who I needed to be. If Jesus Christ had been in that room, he would have known her infirmities, her challenges, her weaknesses. He would have seen her and he would have shown her love and compassion. He would have lived the gospel towards her instead of preaching towards her. And I realized that that's what I'd been doing my whole mission. I was right. in so many ways about how I was teaching the gospel, and I was incredibly wrong at exactly the same time. And so if someone's listening to this podcast and wondering a bit like, what's a tangible thing that I can do right now? I think a lot of times we get caught up on being right. I'm right on the issue or I'm right on the morality of this thing or the other person is wrong somehow and I need to stand my ground because I know that I'm in the right. In Hawaiian, the word for right or righteousness is pono. But the Hawaiians do something really cool with their language. Sometimes they stack words on top of each other. So there's pono and there's pono pono. Pono means to be right, but pono pono means to be righteous. And it means that I can be right, but there's a deeper right. And if there's something tangible that I would take away from some of this is Nephi and everything else we're talking about, I can be right. and I can also be deeply wrong with someone at the same time. Jesus implores us to be the deepest sort of right. Jesus implores us to respond to conflict with love. He responds us to respond to enmity with hope. He responds us to see our enemies as our brothers and sisters. He implores us to use kindness and patience and long-suffering as a response to whatever the wrongs are that we're facing right now. We can be right or we can be right right. And one way will get us to peace, will get us to restoration, will get us to reconciliation. The other one will actually continue an endless mire of conflict. And so deeply think about the conflict that I'm in right now. In what ways am I right? Go ahead, get that out of the ways. And in what ways am I not pono pono right now? Because I'm not right with them. And of all the things Jesus implores us to do is to be right with each other.

(55:39-56:06) Jennifer Thomas: Well, we generally ask everyone to, at the end of the podcast, to share with us the place that they find peace. And I actually think you couldn't have done a better job of telling us that over the last hour. So I don't think we'll ask that because I think you have shared that beautifully with us. So we just want to thank you. Thank you so much for sharing with us your perspective on Christ and His role as the perfect peacemaker. It's been delightful to be with you.

(56:09-56:33) Patrick Mason: Thanks, everybody, for listening today. We really appreciate it. We just want to invite you to subscribe to the podcast and also to rate and review it. We love hearing feedback from listeners, so please email us at podcast at mweg.org. We also want to invite you to think about ways that you can make peace in your life this week. Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next time.

(56:33-56:48) Jennifer Thomas: Thank you for listening to Proclaim Peace, a proud member of the Faith Matters Podcast Network. Faith Matters holds expansive conversations about the restored gospel to accompany individuals on their journey of faith. You can learn more about Faith Matters and check out our other shows at faithmatters.org.

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